Photo: Roger Foley

Does your tree-of-heaven consider your yard hell? Does your resurrection fern refuse to rise? Does your prayer plant even have one? In other words, are you a horribly incompetent gardener who most plants rightly fear? Well, let's turn around that sad situation by growing a lovely vine that's simple as can be. 

I'm talking about the good, old-fashioned morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor) you remember from your childhood. If you need a fence, arbor, trellis, outhouse, or abandoned dump truck covered with beautiful flowers FAST, this annual vine is your baby. It can easily grow 10 to 15 feet a year.

Hundreds of showy flowers in colors of blue, lavender, purple, red, pink, white, and bicolors smother the large, heart-shaped leaves. Each flower opens in morning and closes in afternoon, but so many follow that the plant blooms continuously all summer into fall. Grumpy's favorite morning glory is 'Heavenly Blue,' featuring sky-blue flowers up to five inches across. You can buy seed packets of it right now in garden centers.

 

Photo: Steve Bender

How To Grow Starting morning glory from seed is excruciatingly easy, so don't blow it and embarrass yourself. Here's all you have to do.

1. Buy a packet of seeds. It'll cost $1-2. No, they won't accept stamps.

2. When you get home, tear open the seed packet. Inside, you'll find small, black, spear-shaped seeds with very hard seed coats.

3. Use fingernail clippers to clip off a very small piece of the pointed end of each seed. Then drop the seeds in water overnight before you sow them. Why? Because nicking them allows water to penetrate the seed coats and start the seeds growing. If you don't do this, germination could take a long time.

4. The next day, stick the soaked seeds about a half-inch deep into a pot filled with moist potting soil. Place the pot in a sunny place. In a couple of days, you'll have seedlings! Glorioski!

5. When the seedlings get about 4 to 5 inches tall, plant them in a sunny spot in your garden. They'll need support to twine around and grow on. Anything will do, even string or wire.

6. Enjoy an adult beverage while you admire your success. You brown thumb is now indelibly green.

A Word About Weediness Grumpy has never had problems with named selections of this species of morning glory, but the fact is that other species reseed prolifically and can become intractable weeds. In particular, I would avoid the similar-looking common morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) that has slightly smaller leaves and flowers. This rogue can grow 30 feet a year and seedlings come up everywhere. So read the label! You have been warned.

 

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